Long-term review: Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay delivers quick power and good times
New motor and EWS-inspired design combine for one heck of an eMTB
When Rocky Mountain updated its Powerplay line of eMTB’s for 2022, the Instinct and Altitude were so thoroughly revised that they were essentially new bikes. The silhouette remained consistent with Rocky’s aesthetic but everything else – from suspension design to drive unit and display – were all new.
After spending several months on the Altitude Powerplay C70, Rocky Mountain’s eMTB enduro rig, it is clear that all those changes add up to one impressive bike. There are the occasional feature that might not match personal preference, though that’s true of any bike. But the Altitude is very capable of delivering a good time on anything from tech and flow to the steepest near-DH enduro trails around.
2022 Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay C70: Overview and features
We did a full overview of what was new on the Powerplay line when the bikes were released, but there are a ton of changes from the 2021 model. If you’re already familiar with the bike and want to know how it rides, skip down a bit. But there’s some neat changes for this year.
Built tough and tailored to taste: frame and components
Rocky Mountain also makes a more balanced Powerplay, the Instinct, which frees the Altitude to be a full-on eEnduro bike. It’s a 160-mm rear wheel, 170-mm front wheel bike with 29″ wheels that’s ready for whatever you throw at it. With the assistance of Rocky’s Ride-4 system, it’s happy on anything from flow to really steep tracks. A carbon fibre front triangle is supported by an alloy rear triangle.
Rocky Mountain Altitude and Fox Float X2
Ride-4 chip is a simple version of the Ride-9 that only requires one hex key
Modular shock mount allows you to switch to different current - or future - shock standards.
Both Altitude and Instinct get the 10mm chainstay adjustment, recently rolled out on the pedal versions of both bikes. Photo: Margus Riga
Ride-4 and axle chip
Ride-4 is the new simplified version of Rocky’s longstanding Ride-9 system. The chip system adjusts both geometry, chaning the head angle, seat angle and bottom bracket height, and the suspensions kinematic. The bike is more supportive for efficient pedalling in the high position and ready to brawl in the lowest setting. On the Altitude, Ride-4 gives a head angle range from 63.5 to 64.3-degrees, putting it well on the aggressive end.
Like the analog Altitude, you also have the choice between a long and short chainstay setting. A flip-chip in the rear axle gives a 10-mm range. Short for quicker corners and a more playful set-up. Long for stability and all-out speed.
The suspension layout is new for 2022, and specific to the Powerplay line. A mid-high pivot design gives the Altitude a sligtly more rearward axle path, to better absorb square edge hits and more stability through really challenging terrain. It also gives room for the Dyname 4.0’s inline torque sensor and, in theory, more support while pedalling. With the motor helping out, it’s hard to get a feel for that, but it certainly doesn’t dive into the travel.
Clean internal cable routing and a fork bumper to prevent tugging on cables or wires when you crash.
Full downtube protection.
Rocky Mountain uses dual Enduro bearings at seat-stay-to-chainstay pivots, for increased durability. There’s also a bash guard to protect the motor. Additional frame protection keeps the seat stays safe and the chainstay quiet. There’s also a shuttle guard, for throwing the Altitude in the back of a truck. As with previous Dyname systems, the bottom bracket is separte from, not part of the motor.
170-mm Fox 38 Performance
Assegai DD casing MaxxGrip front tire is burly as you could need, especially with added CushCore XC
Altitude Powerplay C70 components
Rocky Mountain sets the c70 build up with a full compliment of solid parts. Suspension is handled by a 170-mm Fox 38 Float Performance series fork with Grip damper, and Fox Float X2 Performance shock for 160-mm travel out back. Shimano supplies a XT 12-speed drivetrain and 4-piston brakes with appropriately large 203-mm rotors. Wheels are an unremarkable but tough DT Swiss Hybrid 370 hub with WTB ST i30 TCS 2.0 rims. But Maxxis Double Down casing tires come stock, with a 2.5″ MaxxGrip Assegai up front and a more durable 2.4″ MaxxTerra Minion DHR II out back. In a really smart move, Rocky sends out the Altitude with CushCore XC tire inserts pre-installed. This gives a bit more support – and rim protection – so you can run the low pressures you want to without worrying about the added eMTB weight destroying your rims. The seatpost is a Race Face Aeffect R, with travel depending on size. (S = 125mm, M = 150mm, L/XL = 170mm travel) .
Dyname 4.0 is smaller than 3.0, but just as powerful.
Inside the simplified Dyname 4.0 system, and the mid-high pivot linkage
Under the hood: Dyname 4.0, Jumbotron and more
Basically every part of the Powerplay platform is updated for 2022, from motor to a new display, so there’s a lot to cover here.
The big news is the release of Dyname 4.0, the latest generation of Rocky Mountain’s in-house drive unit. The 4.0, which won a Design and Innovation Award this year, is 28.5 per cent smaller than the previous model. It retains its 700-Watt peak power and 108-Nm torque, just in a smaller, quieter package. Rocky removed the upper chain slider from the 3.0 system, which goes a long way to giving the Dyname 4.0 a quieter, more mechanical sound than competing motors.
Rocky also tweaked how those Watts are delivered, giving the Powerplay a slightly more gradual power assist. It now hits max wattage at around 85 rpm. The power curve and support level is tunable, but more on that in the Jumbotron section.
Again, as with previous versions of the Dyname system, the crank and bottom bracket remain separate from the motor system. That means you have options, to pick your favourite parts or to replace anything that breaks. On a big bike meant to charge hard, this is an appealing feature.
Battery, remote and charger
Again, so many changes. Rocky Mountain increases the battery capacity to 720 Wh. The battery is also now removable, so you can charge or store it inside. Recharging is faster with a new 4-amp charger. Rocky says it can get up to 100 per cent charge in under four hours, which my experience backed up. There’s also a 2-amp charger option, which takes longer.
The only thing on the bars is Rocky’s own “micro remote.” It controls assist level and activates walk mode. It’s diminutive size makes it easy to squeeze in with dropper levers and brakes – and it can be run on either side.
New for 2022 is the addition of a display integrated into the Altitude’s top tube. This means you don’t need a phone app to tune the Powerplay system. You can do it all on the bike. Rocky keeps up the Canadiana theme, naming this display the Jumbotron. [My editor would like to point out that the jumbotron first appeared in a baseball game, in Japan. But the hockey connection should be clear for any Canadians reading this review, or at all familiar with Rocky Mountain’s naming conventions]. The Jumbotron uses a black-and-white display that is, as its name suggests, easy to read.
There’s a fourth power setting added for 2022. The Powerplay modes are now Off, Eco, Trail, Trail+ and, for when you need to get from the windows to the walls without breaking a drop of sweat, Ludicrous. The added power setting makes for smaller gaps between power settings, making sure you always have a comfortable setting for everything from technical trails to self-shuttling.
Each support level can be set independently. Torque sensitivity (or “Boost”) can also be adjusted, altering how much input you need to put in for the motor to help you out the most. You can set three different rider profiles for if you’re sharing the bike, or for easily going between different styles of riding. (Big adventure days, quick rips or self shuttles).
Review: 2022 Rocky Mountain Power Play C70 on the trail
After several months, and a couple goes “racing” the Mega Volt, the Altitude’s proven itself at home on whatever I’ve thrown at it. The burlier, the better. Though it also does well on smoother flow trails. The Dyname motor has different feel – and sound – than most eMTB motors that can either be awesome or unfamiliar.
Dyname 4.0 and assorted electronics
The Dyname 4.0’s in-line torque sensor reduces the lag from when you start pedalling to when the motor kicks in. This is great if you’ve put a foot down while climbing and need to get going again where there’s no flat ground. I found it was easier to adapt to, when going back and forth from an analog bike, with what I would describe as a ‘natural’ feel on the pedals. Others disagree. What feels natural will differ between people, sure. But I found having the power respond when you start pedalling, instead of after a lag, felt much more like a normal bike. This is especially true when climbing technical trails. If it feels like the motor is doing too much, the torque sensitivity (or “Boost”) can be tuned down so you need to work harder to get the bike going. Or if you want more of a workout.
The added support setting was more useful than I’d anticipated, too. I ended up sitting in Eco on descents and Ludicrous on roads, leaving the two Trail settings for more range on singletrack. Jumbotron makes customizing your settings reasonably easy, but its still nice to have the added power setting available so you don’t have to do that as much.
Riding the Altitude Powerplay: a powerful descender
With the Dyname 4.0 making the Altitude Powerplay a quick climber, helping you can access whatever descents you want with ease. So, how does this eEnduro bike stack up? Quite well. Rocky Mountain creates a powerful, and adaptable, descender worthy of the Altitude name.
The mid-high pivot (and eMTB weight) does mean the bike is planted. It’s not as easy to pick up and change lines, but it is still nimble in tight trails, for a 160/170mm travel eMTB. It’s well balanced, and I didn’t feel like I had to work as hard on the Altitude as on some other eMTB. If you use the trail and terrain, it’s easy and comfortable to get the Altitude Powerplay airborne and stable on landings. With the rearward axle path and aggressive geometry, the planted feel adds confidence and control to haul into steep and rough trails.
I did keep the Altitude in the short chain stay setting for the bulk of my riding. EMTB still feel longer than normal bikes, and the shorter setting kept it lively enough that it didn’t feel obtrusive.
Ride-4, I played with much more. In the steep setting, it was great for days where the majority of time – climbing and descending – was spent on trails. In the low setting, the Altitude is an absolute beast. It was great for self-shuttling the steepest, roughest trails around, like Mt. Prevost in Duncan, B.C.. But, in slack/low, was a bit much for mellower trails and more prone to pedal strikes while climbing. Ride-4 is simpler, and easier to ajust than Ride-9, so I don’t think it is asking too much to change between settings depending what you want to ride on a given day.
Review verdict: 2022 Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay C70
With Ride-4 and the powerful Dyname 4.0, the Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay has the range – both in battery and capabilities – to take on a solid range of trails. It’s happy attacking enduro trails or giving extra support on less extreme terrain. It is planted and slack, though. If you’re looking for a bike that’s lighter, and easier to get up off the ground, the Instinct Powerplay carries many of the same same features in a less aggressive design. But, for riders that like to charge hard and push themselves on challenging trails, the Altitude Powerplay will always encourage you to go harder, and then go for one more lap.
There are four sizes available, from Small to XL. Electric mountain bikes still aren’t exactly cheap. The Altitude Powerplay Carbon 70 retails for $11,340.00 which, relative to other eMTB isn’t bad. There’s also three full-alloy frame options, from the $7,350 A30 to the $9,240 A70, and the top-end Altitude Powerplay C90 Rally Edition, with a coil shock and Fox Factory suspension, for $13,130. If you want to go further than the 720-Wh battery will take you, the Overtimepack 2.0 adds another 314 Wh of adventure.